A court in Indonesia has ruled that the superyacht Equanimity must be returned to its owner. The 91m Oceanco was seized in Bali in February by Indonesian authorities at the behest of the US Department of Justice. The DOJ wants to confiscate the superyacht as part of its investigation into the Malaysian fund 1MDB. US authorities allege that Equanimity’s owner, Jho Low, purchased the superyacht by ill-gotten money funnelled through the US financial system.

Dr Rudy Heriyanto Adi, director of the Indonesia Special Economic Crimes Unit, said that police will obey yesterday’s court decision. The court ruled that the yacht’s seizure was illegal and not conducted in accordance with Indonesian law. “Based on the facts of the proceedings, it was found that the rightful owner of the superyacht Equanimity is Equanimity Cayman Limited (and) that there is no link between the superyacht and 1MDB,” Adi added.

The DOJ continues to press on for Equanimity’s seizure in a US District court in California.

In a filing with the court yesterday, lawyers for the vessel’s registered owner Equanimity (Cayman) Ltd argued that the US government should not be given protective custody of the vessel in light of the Indonesian verdict. “The [US] government asks the court to make this ‘custodianship’ appointment even in the complete absence of lawful cooperation by foreign authorities and without regard to a foreign sovereign nation’s laws and court orders,” said the filing, according to a story in malaysiakini.com. “There is no precedent to force lawful owners of foreign property affirmatively to deliver their property, located abroad, into the hands of the government, even where no arrest warrant in rem for that property was lawfully executed.”

The DOJ claims that Equanimity, valued at US$250m, was purchased by funds that Jho Low gained illegally from 1MDB. It continues to seek protective custody of the yacht to bring it to the US for sale.

The lawyers for Equanimity said the vessel will not be moved from Indonesian waters without advance notice to the US government. “And, as it always has been, the defendant's asset shall remain trackable throughout that process,” Equanimity’s lawyer told the website.

A hearing date has been set for April 30 in a California district court.